CAPITO aimed at comparing the emerging capitalist regimes in six Eastern European countries: Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia and Serbia.
What do we learn from the fact that the day before yesterday Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary had been, while yesterday Slovenia and Slovakia were, the favourite "transforming states" or "emerging markets" of the region, in the eyes of well-informed analysts? Are the rankings comprehensive, unbiased, sophisticated, and comparable enough? If one considers just two of the recent frontrunners, it is perplexing to see that Slovakia and Slovenia earned praise for diametrically opposing features: the former for courageous moves of liberalisation, the latter for not making those moves.
The CAPITO project pursued two main objectives:
Identifying the state of the art in comparative studies of capitalism in (and on) Eastern Europe;
Suggesting an alternative approach to comparing the nascent capitalist regimes in six Eastern European countries.
The project applied a simple scheme of "tradition-emulation-invention" to identify the origins of institutional change in the economies of the region, and define the real types of nascent capitalism in an East-East and an East-West comparison. It goes beyond the standard "Varieties of Capitalism" paradigm insofar as it pays special attention to
(a) the historical/cultural roots of the new capitalist regimes, (b) the external impacts made by rival models of Western capitalism upon the evolution of these regimes, and (c) local innovation in the course of the post-communist transformation.
Instead of starting comparison with loudly-proclaimed hypotheses concerning the "quintessence" of new capitalisms in Eastern Europe, CAPITO simply claimed that the new capitalist regimes are likely to differ from the established ones at least in three important respects:
This is not the first time that capitalism emerges in these countries. Moreover, on this occasion, capitalism was preceded by communism;
Capitalism strikes roots under the heavy influence of two rivalling capitalist models, to put it simply, America and Europe, not to speak of their sub-models, China, etc.
The new capitalist regimes have not reached their "steady state" yet. They are being engineered from above by the elites with all their political organisations, dominant discourses, etc. At the same time, they are also being crafted from below (very actively but often invisibly) by the societies at large.